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Music for Ascension

Jesus ascending to heaven
Jesus ascending to heaven

By Our Mighty Lord’s Ascension, We by faith behold our own.   The HYMN OF THE DAY, “See, the Lord Ascends in Triumph” (494) brings together various Old Testament accounts as types of Christ: Enoch, Aaron, Joshua, and Elijah.  John Julian, editor of A Dictionary of Hymnology, writes: “The amount of Holy Scripture compressed into these forty lines is wonderful.  Prophesy, types, historical facts, doctrinal teaching, ecstatic praise, all are here; and the result is one grand rush of holy song.”

Author Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) was a priest and bishop in the Church of England, and nephew of poet laureate William Wordsworth.  Gifted in writing, he wroteThe Holy Year, a collection of hymns for seasons and Sundays of the liturgical year. He said that it should be “the first duty of a hymn-writer to teach sound doctrine, and thus to save souls.”  He strove to write hymns that were grounded in the Holy Scriptures, in the writings of Christian antiquity, and in the poetry of the ancient church.  He wrote around 125 hymns.

Hark those bursts of acclamation!  The ENTRANCE HYMN “Look, Ye Saints, the Sight is Glorious” (495) sings of Our Savior’s exultation to sit at the right hand of the Father.  Thomas Kelly (1769-1854), an Irish hymnist, published it in a collection in 1809, based on Revelation 11.15: “He shall reign forever and ever.”

It is set to a Welsh tune by William Owen (1813-1893).  The strong and grand tune was described by Eric Routley (1917-1982) as “a piece of Celtic rock.”  The PRELUDE is a setting of this tune by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).

A recording of the Prelude:

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